Arun Sudhaman 04 Jul 2014 // 1:25PM GMT
NEW DELHI—Perfect Relations, one of India's largest independent PR firms, is understood to be in acquisition talks with two potential buyers, including MSLGroup.
The Holmes Report understands that both MSLGroup and Australian-based WPP outfit PPR are interested in Perfect Relations, which was founded by Dilip Cherian and Bobby Kewalramani 20 years ago.
The Indian firm, which is worth approximately $10m, has regularly attracted interested from the global holding groups, thanks to its status as the country's second-largest independent PR firm, behind Adfactors.
However, a deal has yet to materialise to date, despite previous talks with a number of potential suitors. A source familiar with the situation noted that there is a "general feeling that everyone wants to sell" this time around, even if negotiations remain at a relatively early stage.
MSL's presence in talks will raise eyebrows after its acquisition of two Indian agencies — Hanmer and 20:20 — in recent years, giving it one of the country's largest PR operations. PPR, meanwhile, is focused on expanding its international footprint after launching in Europe last year.
In a 2012 interview with the Holmes Report, Cherian noted that Perfect had been "approached quite often."
"We have taken a view that we don’t intend to sell," said Cherian at the time. "Because we believe that the best is yet to come. We figured out that both Bobby and I would make poor employees today; we don’t think we’d survive the lock-in period. Accountants’ offers don’t interest us."
A high-profile media personality, Cherian is often viewed as Perfect's biggest asset, but he commands a loyal, experienced leadership team that includes CEO Valerie Pinto, who has been with the agency for 12 years.
According to sources, many of Perfect's senior executives are alive to the benefits that a global network could bring their agency. Most of Indian's biggest PR firms have sold out, including Genesis B-M, HanmerMSL and IPAN H+K.
Given the inconclusive outcome of previous negotiations, another source noted that, "it would be no surprise if Perfect stayed independent." Much, the source added, would depend on the terms being offered by the two holding groups.
Perfect Relations' representatives declined to comment. An MSLGroup spokesperson said that the company "does not comment on potential acquisitions." PPR CEO Peter Lazar did not respond to request for comment.